Carson faces Hug in Sierra League opener
There’s no need to tell either Shane Quilling or Rollins Stallworth how high the stakes will be tonight when their respective Carson and Hug high school football teams take the field.
First of all, the opposing coaches are well aware that the 7:30 p.m. contest is their Sierra League opener. Both teams come in with 1-2 records and are looking to build some momentum toward the playoffs in November. And Quilling is well aware how hard it is to come back from 0-1 because the Senators have been in that position each of the last four years after losing their league opener to Hug.
The Carson-Hug game last year in Reno was certainly close, if not amazing. The Senators took a 17-7 lead to the fourth quarter, only to see the Hawks rally for a 19-17 victory. Four turnovers, several costly penalties (including a late hit on a third down play in the fourth quarter) and an ill-fated fake punt attempt by the Senators in the fourth quarter were all key factors. At season’s end, Hug was in the playoffs. Carson missed out on the playoff party by virtue of a tie-breaker.
“It’s been a dagger game for us for four years, and it’s come back to haunt us in the playoffs,” Quilling said. “We have a lot to play for – I mean first league game – it’s a good challenge for us.”
Stallworth was quick to point out how closely the Sierra League bunched in the preseason win-loss column. Douglas leads the way with its 1-1 nonleague record, while Carson, Hug, Reno and Wooster are all 1-2. At 0-2, North Valleys is the only team still looking for its first win.
“I think there’s a lot of parity in our league,” said Stallworth, who has been the head coach at Hug since 1993 and formerly played at the University of Nevada (1979-80). “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so tight. There’s always at least one or two front runners, but this has been amazing.”
Carson is coming off its first win of the season, a 20-19 triumph in Reno against Galena last Friday. The offensive production was the best so far this season for the Senators, who had been limited to just 10 points in losses against Moapa Valley and McQueen to start the season.
“One of our average goals on offense is to score 28 points,” Quilling said. “That doesn’t mean you’re going to win every game, but most of the time, if you score 28, you’re going to win the game.”
The Senators got a boost last week by the return of senior quarterback Kyle Bacon, who had missed the first two games due to a flexor injury. He came off the bench in the second quarter against Galena and led the Senators on two scoring drives that turned a 10-0 deficit into a 14-10 halftime lead. Bacon, who broke a 57-yard run on the option on his first play from scrimmage and later threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Scott Witter, was named as the team’s offensive player of the game.
Meanwhile, Hug is coming off a 35-28 overtime loss against undefeated Spanish Springs. The week before, the Hawks defeated Tahoe-Truckee 34-21 behind a 321-yard rushing performance by Isaac Porter. Porter, a senior who has rushed for more than 2,600 yards in three varsity seasons, showed his breakaway speed against Truckee when he scored on a 95-yard run.
“Porter can break one at any time. If you don’t tackle well, he’s going to hurt you,” Quilling said. “But it’s not just Porter. They run the Power I and if you miss tackles, all three of those guys can score quick, so we’ve got to step up on D.”
Junior Darren Shepherd is dangerous on the fullback trap and senior Dexter Rackley is a threat at the other running back position.
“They don’t have as many carries as Isaac, but they’re asking for the ball and they’re both very capable,” Stallworth said. “Both of those kids have rushed for over 100 yards, and we have a couple other kids who are pretty good and still haven’t had their chance to run the ball yet.”
Another key for the Hawks is going to be their ability to pass, according to Stallworth.
“We’re going to have to throw the ball better if we want to win in this league, or win this game,” the coach said.
It shapes up as a good game, the Hug coach added.
“Our games have always been pretty good,” Stallworth said. “I know our kids are looking forward to it because this is our first game on the road. We’ve played three home games, so they’re excited about getting out of town and seeing what they can do.”
Notes: Cornerback Andrew Rodriguez was named defensive player of the game and Jason Dittenber was named special teams player of the game. … The Senators also got some good plays on defense in the fourth quarter against Galena: Nose guard David Cadwallader stopped a first down run for no gain on one play; inside linebacker Derek Shoaf limited another first down run to a one-yard gain, and finally, Ken Binder recovered a fumble with 2:26 remaining to end Galena’s last hope for victory. … Zack Terstigee went high in the air and batted away what looked like a touchdown pass late in the third quarter, but turned his ankle after landing and is questionable to play this week. … Two-way starter Aaron Holmes will return after a two-game suspension for disciplinary reasons. Holmes is a running back/linebacker.
Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.